The People of Bawa

Bawa has a population of around 400. It is comprised of 58 families with between five and ten members each. Like most Bamiléké villages, the family inhabits a compound of structures built from mud bricks set on hard flat earth and topped with metal roofs. The focus of each compound is the main house, which is primarily inhabited by the husband. Older children and visitors reside here. Each wife is entitled to her own building within the compound where she lives and raises her younger children.

Bawa is a traditional agrarian culture. Crops cultivated include coffee, plantain, yams, potatoes, corn, groundnuts (peanuts), vegetables, and various other fruits. The primary livestock consists of pigs, goats, sheep, and chickens. All family members are involved in the daily farming activity with women and children doing the cooking, laundry and the cleaning of the entire compound.

Major commerce activities are left to the men and include trading of coffee and farm animals. Secondary trade of other farm products is conducted by the women. The money generated by men’s commercial trade goes to the entire family budget while that of the women is allocated for her own use in feeding and raising her children. Many of the major family expenses are the responsibility of the father, including: health care, tuition and books, clothing for special events and of course taxes. Women are responsible for their kitchen needs, their working clothes and the every-day clothing of the children.